I’ve always heard that Southerners were passionate about their food. It wasn’t until I uprooted from my Northern home and planted myself in the Piedmont that I realized how inseparable food is to the South’s culture. After exploring traditional Southern dishes and wondering if there was anything that didn’t go with grits, I came to understand why Southern food is as rich as the history it reflects.
In the fast-paced North, time is a precious commodity, and I never wanted to spend it on prepping and cooking meals. Convenient, quick meals that required minimal effort were a staple in my cupboard. Less time in the kitchen means more time for family, fun or work. This mindset is spreading to the South, and many of the region’s rich culinary traditions are getting lost. I can say, though, at Lucky’s we’re proud to do our part in honoring and preserving the culinary legacies that have been passed down from generation to generation, serving the dishes that are near and dear to our hearts…and we hope creating new traditions, too.
While there are certainly exciting culinary developments in restaurant and home kitchens all over the world, in most homes, cooking has become a lost art. We want to help folks explore this lost art and learn more about the rich Southern foodways that are our heritage in the Piedmont. (In case you don’t know the term, foodway refers to the practices, rituals, and habits of a particular region, culture, or time period.) By taking a look at the first victual adventures of European settlers as they interacted with Native people, plus the food traditions of various slave populations, we can get insight into how we think about nourishing ourselves in the present.
So buckle your seat belts: We are going back to our Southern roots.
Southern food was the result of many cultures colliding together. Native Americans planted the seeds (quite literally) that became Southern food’s roots. When the English settlers arrived, they were ignorant of the ways of the land. Natives were instrumental in teaching them how to grow, prepare and eat a variety of produce.
In particular, the Natives’ mastery of the many uses of corn saved the settlers from starvation and allowed them to establish settlements. You can even trace the origins of our beloved cornbread back to the people we now refer to as Native Americans, who combined nuts, berries and water with corn and then roasted it into a cake. When the Natives passed this technique on, the English experimented with it to create the many versions of cornbread we have today. I prefer the sweeter cornbread over savory, but that’s a debate in and of itself.